Today’s snippet, titled “Into The Grey Garrison”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s new (Good) Pathfinder Campaign.
Be forewarned, there are mature themes and naughty language below.
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“Do you think that-”
Nîda glanced up at Athynacious as he stopped short, then followed his gaze to the steps where the half-orc Paladin was descending. That’s Irabeth, of the Eagle Watch, Nîda recalled, smoothing down the front of her trousers and standing up a bit straighter. Everyone knew of Irabeth now, even if they hadn’t before the Fall of Kenabres. She is already creating a legacy for herself.
“Will the volunteers please assemble in the left-most commons room in one quarter of an hour? We will be finalizing plans for a second run at the Grey Garrison.”
A pretty, limping little thing chased after the charismatic leader and Nîda smiled to see it. It is nice to know that love flourishes despite all this bleakness. Athynacious motioned toward the left-most common room with a tilt of his head. “Shall we?”
The room was not very large and it was fairly crowded with people already. Nîda cast a gaze around the room and wondered which of these brave souls would give their lives in service of the city. She chewed the inside of her lips, suddenly wondering if she would be tasked to give her own. Nîda had always counted on having many, many years ahead of her to study and live and explore and learn and laugh and love.
In that moment, her heart beat a little faster and she felt her own mortality as a real and tangible thing.
Nîda nodded, fidgeting with her silver-dragon Quarterstaff.
In one corner, the two who had returned waited. They wore expressions of determination that mirrored each other, yet each was tingued with something else. The halfling wore a grim smile, trying to maintain her natural sunny optimism in spite of the horrors she had witnessed. The woman, whose dark, slanted eyes were impossible to read, seemed carved of ice. Her lips were tightly pressed together and Nîda wondered if she would ever find anything to smile about again.
There were others along the edges of the room. Her handsome, green-eyed escort had moved further into the throng and was chatting politely to a truly beautiful woman with an air of authority about her. Lieutenant Graves, I think, she thought, pleased to remember a chance-met acquaintance’s name. And there, that’s Lloyd. I wonder if he’ll go. Poor fellow. What good will a cobbler be when it comes to fighting?
Nîda cast a glance at the others. An elf she had seen in passing but never officially met – she thought he went by the name Jensen – awaited with the group. He was a studied wizard as well and Nîda wondered if she was simply superfluous, given that he was already here to volunteer.
“What? Speak up, ya pommy twat, I can’t hear a bloody thing yer sayin’”
Nîda frowned at the stocky dwarven man. He was growling at a beautiful young woman who cringed and cowered as if he might strike her. Nîda was instantly reminded of a beaten puppy her old friend Rosabee had rescued from some urchins many years ago. The girl’s eyes were downcast and she murmured an apology, stepping to the side, but the surly man was not quite ready to relinquish his anger. He opened his mouth to speak again and Nîda lost her temper.
“Enough of that,” she said, stepping into the small gap between the two. She squared her shoulders, daring the dwarf to challenge her authority. Perhaps he would have, for he was obviously annoyed at being denied his quarry, but at that moment Irabeth strode into the room. The half-orc woman was striking, if not beautiful in the traditional sense, and her eyes glittered with purpose.
“This will be brief, so please do not take it personally if I cannot make use of you each for this particular mission. There will be others, and soon. For now, if everyone save Lieutenant Graves, Jensen, Arcanist Nîda, Athynacious Bernard, and Alisandra could quietly leave the room, I would appreciate it.”
Nîda was slightly surprised to have been chosen, especially given that Jensen wielded the arcane arts as well, and the girl, Alisandra, could hardly be a warrior with her half-starved build and those haunted eyes. Perhaps they’re sending their most useless mouths out as fodder? she wondered, frowning. But that cannot be right. Graves is certainly as far from useless as any and both Jensen and I are quite accomplished, I believe. Athynacious is a warrior-priest – invaluable! So, I suppose that means, whatever she is, Alisandra is more than she appears…
“All right,” Irabeth cleared her throat, closing the door behind the last straggler. “There is not a lot of time, but you four – as well as Kumiko and Mira here – are going to infiltrate the Grey Garrison.”
“Again,” Mira said.
“Yes, again. And with, I daresay, much better result. I will not lie or give false hope – this mission is both critical and highly dangerous. In our first attempt, we lost several valiant men from the skirmish teams as well as six individuals – of eight – we had originally charged with the task.”
“Six. Out of Eight? Nîda could hardly get the word out for the lump in her throat.
Irabeth gave her a stern, appraising look, as if wondering if she would break beneath the weight of this news, but Nîda managed to lift her chin and nod, giving every appearance of the determination she did not quite feel. The paladin continued, outlining the details of their plan succinctly, allowing both Mira and Kumiko to jump in with commentary on what exactly had gone wrong the first time and how they would avoid it a second time.
“We will need a rally point,” Graves said, “To fall back to, just in case.”
“Yeah,” Jensen nodded. “Close enough that we can see the fort, but far enough away that we can cast our abjuration spells on the group without being overheard by their guards.”
Nîda merely nodded.
“And we won’t do a frontal assault this time,” Mira said. “But Irabeth got this wand from Aravashnial, I think. It only has one charge on it, but the spell it pretty potent from what they say and it should allow us all to pass through an exterior wall so we can surprise them.”
“Hai. No wake whole keep with bash-bash.” The foreign woman had not said much, but there was a bitter accusation in her tone. “Use brains. Patience. Soft as water, strong as water.”
Nîda thought that that was just about the least elegant use of a fine, beautiful metaphor, but she approved of the sentiment. Yes, we will use our collective intelligence and we will succeed where the others failed.
As they continued to discuss the plans, Nîda found herself mentally reviewing the spells she knew and considering which she would need to memorize for the upcoming battle. There were so many that might be useful, choosing would be difficult. She had never before felt that she could not memorize enough in one day, that she could be mid-battle and have nothing left in her repertoire. The feeling of potential, hypothetical helplessness made her knees knock in her pristine white trousers.
“Get some rest, if you can,” Irabeth said at last. “I’ll be assembling teams to create the distraction. If you need anything, send a page to me.”
Suddenly, Nîda was alone with a squadron of warriors girding for all-out war and she felt like a bunny amongst a cast of falcons. As the others began to break off to gather their gear and prepare, she caught sight of Alisandra. The beautiful young thing had hardly let her eyes rise from the floor and even now, stood half-cowed as if she might be struck at any moment for simply breathing too loudly.
Well, Nîda thought, not unkindly, if I am a rabbit, I am still mightier than her. Poor little mouse…
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Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me